They troll web dating sites such as Match.com, chat rooms and Facebook looking for their victims who are usually over 40. The average victim loses about $26,000.
After finding their victim, the scammer will portray themselves as successful business people, models, missionaries or even American soldiers. They will take photos often from legitimate modeling sites to make themselves look gorgeous.
After wooing their victim on the phone, text messages and email, they come up with a story that they have had some sort of emergency and need money quick. Can you help?
Two twists to this scam include:
- On webcams, they convince you to perform sex acts. Then they blackmail you to not post the video.
- If the scammer is “caught,” they profess their “true” love for the victim. Many people turn away, but, those who do not, are pulled down another path. This time, they are encouraged to visit the scammer. The first visit is perfect. On subsequent visits, the victim is maneuvered to scam other victims.
- Photos too good to be real. If the person looks too good, or looks like they are from a modeling agency, they probably stole the picture.
- Inconsistent communications. If email responses are vague or seem repetitive, you might be communicating with a team. According to RomanceScams.org (www.roamancescams.org), often romance scammers work in teams of six people. Each team can be communicating with numerous victims. Their communications and responses are often standard for their operation. And, if you are texting, direct messaging, or emailing and it seems to take some time to get a response from your “love”, they may be consulting with their teammates, or if they have been away from the computer for a while, they may be looking up communications to update themselves.
- Profiles that sound too good to be true. Be skeptical if your true love claims to be a millionaire, Army general, or high profile celebrity.
- Unreasonable requests. Cut off your relationship if they ask for emergency money early in the relationship.
RomanceScams.org points out that the teams of scammers are men, women, and even teenagers of all ages. If you are a male, thinking that you have found a beauty that has fallen in love with you, you might be talking to a male who is 13 years old.
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